Don't Be a Victim: Tax time is scam time

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - If you have received a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, you are not alone. Tax scam calls have soared by over 1,200 percent this year, but that's not the only method these scammers are using.

"A lot of the scammers are becoming more sophisticated," says Bob Scutta, who owns and manages IKOR, a professional advocacy and concierge life care management company.

Scammers are up to their old tricks and some new ones - even going after the people who prepare your taxes - stealing taxpayer identities and actually filing the returns.

"And as soon as that goes in, then they will call the person who received the electronic refund into their account and explain to them that it was an error, and in order to rectify the error, they have to reimburse the collection company and the collection company will pay it to the IRS. The IRS never uses a collection company, so that is one sign that people should look out for," Scutta said.

The IRS says that any taxpayer who receives a refund that they didn't apply for should contact the agency immediately at its toll-free number (800.TAX.1040).

You should have your bank return the payment to the IRS and immediately take steps to secure your bank account.

Scutta says Seniors are often the target of other sometimes-threatening phone calls from scammers posing as the IRS.

"They have to make a payment or they have to send a gift card or they are going to be threatened with jail, losing their license, other fear tactics," he said.

Police say that when it comes to taxpayer and fraud scams, avoid providing funds through wire transfers or money cards. Never verify your personal information. When possible, get the caller's name and contact information before disconnecting. React thoughtfully, not in haste, and notify police immediately.

"Be very aware and verify any information or any calls that you get requesting money, and it's really important that anything to do with finances or health, that you initiate the call and somebody is not calling you," Scutta warned.

When it comes to the IRS, Scutta says it's extremely rare that they would call you on the phone. Usually, they will contact you by letter and they never will demand payment right away.

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